Civil society must be able to fully participate in the nomination of new judges

Civil society must be able to fully participate in the nomination of new judges
Civil society must be able to fully participate in the nomination of new judges

The current judges of the Supreme Court of Justice and the Court of Appeals of Guatemala will complete their terms in October 2024. Congress will then elect new judges based on lists chosen by the recently sworn-in Nomination Committees.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers*Margaret Satterthwaite welcomed the swearing-in and recalled that all members of the Commissions must, in accordance with the law, “act responsibly and be motivated by the national interest.”

“In this way, the decisions of the Commissions will represent the broader interests of society,” Satterthwaite said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Publish the criteria

The expert asked the Commissions to make public the indicators of each of the criteria to determine the suitability of the candidates: “capacity, specialization, suitability, honesty and proven honorability.”

The rapporteur noted that the Civil society must be able to participate fully and meaningfully in the consideration of the candidates and in the supervision of the process, which is why it urged the Commissions to consider and respond substantively to the objections or “challenges” presented by civil society.

He also urged Do not repeat the pastwhen judges were not appointed for almost a full term. “The Guatemalan people deserve courts made up of judges of the highest caliber, appointed in a timely manner, complying with legal deadlines,” he said.

He stressed that there must be a clear evaluation scheme with the score assigned to each criterion clearly specified and shared from the beginning of the process.

The evaluation scheme and schedule to be followed must also detail the evaluation methods, the criteria for possible exclusions of candidates, and the criteria for accepting or excluding objections to candidatures.

Satterthwaite said that for officials already in judicial office, the criteria of capacity and expertise should include an independent assessment of their current performance of their duties.

Honesty and honorability

Regarding the criteria of honesty and honorability, he stressed that not having had a criminal sentence is insufficient on its own and argued that it should Candidates must be required to submit a sworn and public declaration of assetsemployment contracts and a sworn and public declaration of personal and commercial conflicts of interest.

“All these elements should be taken into account when evaluating honesty and integrity,” he stressed.

The expert has presented her recommendations to the Guatemalan government.

*The Experts and Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as Procedures Human Rights Council Special Procedures. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN human rights system, is the general name for the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

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